|Filipino nurses celebrate 43 years in Belgium|
FILIPINO NURSES PAYS TRIBUTE TO 70 YEARS OF PHL-BE RELATIONS; CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY ON OPENING OF PHIL FLAG DAYS
Four (4) Filipino/Belgian nurses based in Charleroi, Belgium and its environs reacquired their Filipino nationality on 27 May 2016 at Montigny-Le-Tilleul as they celebrate the 43rd year of their presence as Filipino nurses in Belgium.
Ambassador Victoria S. Bataclan, Philippine Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, ‘inducted’ Mesdames Zenaida Gonzales, Flordeliza Mesina, Elflida Mortel and Roqueta Tambanillo as a fitting tribute to the 70th year of Philippine-Belgian relations and in observance of the first day of the Philippine Flag Days (28 May to 12 June).
Also present during the event were the other members of the ‘original’ arrivals in Belgium, led by Ms. Carol Baldovino, in whose residence the event took place.
The initial batch of Filipino nurses came to Belgium as early as 1969. It was, however, in 1973 that the late Mr. Andre De Cooman, then Director-General of the former Intercommunale d’Oeuvres Sociales (InterMunicipal Social Works of Charleroi) which managed the former “Le Rayon de Soleil” (The Rays of the Sun), came to Manila and recruited some fifty (50) Filipino nurses with the assistance of the Belgian Embassy in Manila. Mr. De Cooman and Dr. Marie-Jeanne De Cooman, a Pediatrician, believed in the Filipino nurses’ dedication and loyalty and hoped that their strong sense of duty and service will provide a new dimension to the then problematic “Le Rayon de Soleil”. The hospital couldn’t operate properly then without the presence of qualified nurses. In 1985, the hospital was closed in view of a ruling from the Belgian Ministry of Health requiring that the number of hospital beds in the regions be diminished. Most of the nurses continued to work at the Centre Hospitaliere Universitaire Andre Vesale.
To date, these nurses are now retired and/or have migrated to either the United States or Canada.
The presence of Filipino nurses in Belgium since 1968 serves as a fitting testament of the success of Philippine-Belgium people-to-people relationships which has grown stronger through the years.